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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Area code snobs

Greetings from the 323! There was a six month period during 1999 when I worked for a company in Santa Monica. It was a great location, near Third Street Promenade and the pier. Unfortunately I never felt like I clicked with the job, which was boring but would have likely led to a much better position that I could have no doubt aced and made a hell of a lot more money at, especially compared to what I'm doing and making now. Not to mention that I'd have an assistant instead of being one. I should have stuck with it, but that's a regret I've already beat myself up for plenty and not really the point of this post anyway. The point is that during the period I worked in SM, the initial attempt at a 310 overlay was in effect. The new area code had not been introduced, but we were required to dial 1-310 even when calling other numbers within the area code. And you know what? It was no big deal. With all the different area codes in Southern California it's just sort of automatic anyway. This eventually went away as 310 peeps spent years - and God knows how much money - trying to fight off the overlay and keep the "prestigious" area code. But now the reality of the situation can no longer be denied: the phone companies are simply running out of 310 numbers. It happens, that's why we have so damn many area codes in the Southland to begin with. But some people are treating it like some sort of approaching disaster guaranteed to turn their lives upside down, a kind of man-made Hurricane Katrina for Westside area code snobs. Check out this L.A. Times story for the anguished reactions of the unfortunate victims. My heart bleeds. Also, it mocks. Some gems from the article (bold italics are mine):
  • For Robertson, 28, that means reprogramming scores of numbers on her cellphone and work line. Her dentist, her bank, her tax preparer, her credit union, even her local pizza joint. "I just never really thought about how much of an inconvenience it's going to be," said Robertson, who's not sure if she'll bother reentering the numbers or just wait until she gets a new phone and start over.
  • Still, some of the more than 1 million people living in the 310 said they don't like the idea of being area-code guinea pigs. "It's a nightmare," said Mel Honl, a Torrance resident and business owner.
  • "We're telling people, 'It's coming, it's coming. Are you ready?' " said Marna Smeltzer, president and chief executive of the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce. Smeltzer was one of many South Bay locals who for years fought to keep the 310, making it a volatile political issue from Santa Monica to the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
  • "Nobody's prepared," said Manhattan Beach City Councilman Jim Aldinger. In discussions about reprogramming phones, Aldinger said, "everybody I talk to goes, 'What? Why would I do that?' "

In all fairness, there are some voices of reason:

  • Teri Meyer, 39, is prepared.Over the past month, the Santa Monica native has gradually been reprogramming her cellphone (cut) Meyer estimated it took about an hour. "It's done, it's over with, and now it's time to move on," Meyer said.
  • Mark Bregel, 51, said that as area codes have proliferated throughout Southern California in the last decade, he's gotten used to always dialing the code before each number. "It's going to be, whether you like it or not," he said...

My feeling: quit bitching. Think how many numbers you could have reprogrammed while you were complaining. There are benefits: those of you who already have 310 numbers get to keep your elite designation and look down at the poor unfortunates who will have to slum it in the 424. Seriously, look at the bright side.

Now that that's settled, can we please move on to other pressing issues like hunger, homelessness, education, illegal immigration, the environment? I mean now that the tragedy of the 310 has been dealt with? Thanks.

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